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Westminster police assisting retired officer after home destroyed by fire

A house fire burned a house to the ground in the 400 block of Leppo Road in Westminster on Thursday evening.
A house fire burned a house to the ground in the 400 block of Leppo Road in Westminster on Thursday evening. (Submitted photo / HANDOUT)

The Westminster Police Department is collecting money to help a retired officer and his family get back on their feet after a fire destroyed their home Thursday night.

James Pullen and his wife were not home at the time of the fire and no one was injured, but the home was determined to be a complete loss, four dogs and four cats died in the fire and four vehicles were destroyed, according to a notice of investigation from the Office of the State Fire Marshal.

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Pullen retired from the Westminster Police Department as a sergeant in 2014, but continues to work part time as a crime analyst for the department, according to Chief Jeff Spaulding. Prior to coming to Westminster, Pullen was a police officer in England, where he's from, but moved to the states after meeting his wife, Spaulding said.

The Westminster Police Department has partnered with the Community Foundation of Carroll County to help raise funds for Pullen and his family. Anyone wishing to donate may drop off a check made out to "Community of Compassion — Pullen Family" at the Westminster Police Department, which is at 36 Locust St. in Westminster.

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Kevin Dayhoff, a chaplain for the Westminster Vol. Fire Company whom the Pullens asked to speak on their behalf, said family friends have made accommodations for the couple to stay with them in the short-term, and another friend has offered a fully furnished apartment.

"They are extremely appreciative of all the help that's been offered," Dayhoff said. "We're a close family in Westminster and Carroll County, and they are just very thankful for the outpouring of caring and concern."

Dayhoff said the Pullens were "pretty broken up" about the loss of their pets.

The couple had just dug themselves out from the snow and decided to go out to dinner Thursday night, Dayhoff said. While dining at O'Lourdan's, a neighbor who was also at the restaurant heard from a relative that the Pullens' house was on fire, and relayed the news to the couple, Dayhoff explained.

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Firefighters from Pleasant Valley, Westminster and Manchester were called to the 400 block of Leppo Road just before 7 p.m. Thursday, according to the state fire marshal's notice of investigation. When they arrived, they found a two-story single-family dwelling on fire.

It took the 30 firefighters at the scene about 45 minutes to control the fire, according to the investigation notice.

Estimated damage to the home was about $250,000, and another $250,000 in contents were destroyed, according to the fire marshal's notice.

The origin of the fire has not yet been determined, and the cause of the blaze is under investigation.

S. Wayne Carter Jr. contributed to this article.

410-857-3315

Twitter.com/heatherleighnor

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